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English 102: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? and City of Glass: Evaluating Sources

This course guide was created specifically for Professor Andrew Erkkila's Spring 2019 English 102 Classes.

Defining Sources and Resources

Key Definitions

  • Scholarly Publications: Articles or books, written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields and often contain original research results.
  • Peer Reviewed: Scholarly articles or books that were reviewed by other scholars in the same field prior to publication.
  • Popular Publications: Non-scholarly publications that are aimed at a general audience.
  • Newspaper Articles: Articles that focus on current events, general information, or entertainment. Usually written by Journalists using a specific format.
  • Opinion and Editorials: Articles that are usually written with the personal bias of the author or authors.
  • Journal Articles : Articles published in professional or scholarly serial publications.
  • Magazine Articles: Articles published in serial publications aimed at the general public.
  • Archive: A collection of historical documents and related materials.
  • Primary Resource: A source that contains first-hand information, written by someone with direct knowledge of or involvement in the focus of the work.
  • Secondary Resource: A source that contains second-hand information, usually written by someone who may have researched the subject matter but has no direct or personal involvement in it.

Quick Guides to Information Quality

Searching and Evaluating the Internet

Evaluate Web Pages (Widener University)

Tate and Alexander, librarians at Widener University, were pioneers in the art of formal Web page evaluation. They advocated five basic criteria (accuracy, authority, objectivity, coverage, currency) with variations in approach for different types of Web pages. This is an updated version of their work.

Evaluating Websites (University of Maryland University College)

Presents an excellent checklist of criteria and questions relevant to Web page evaluation. 

How to Evaluate Sources

You must evaluate all sources that you find - yes, even those found on library shelves or within the library’s databases!  So, what do you need to look for?

· Relevancy of resource to your topic

· Currency – are you doing a historical study or do you want only the most recent information about your topic?

· Authority/credibility/reliability of authors/editors/publishers

o What are their credentials?

o Are they considered experts in the field?  Do other scholars cite their works?

· Accuracy / validity

o Do other sources say the same thing?

o What supporting evidence (e.g., references) is provided?

· Biases – may have an effect on the information presented

o Who is funding/sponsoring the study?

o What are the author/editor’s affiliations?  Political viewpoints?  Religious beliefs?

o Is there balanced coverage, where all aspects of the subject are discussed to the same level of detail?

o Is it just-the-facts being presented or an interpretation of the facts?

o Are assumptions or opinions being made without supporting evidence?

o What is the context in which the information was created?

· Purpose & intended audience – this affects how the information is presented

· Referrals – Further Reading suggestions or hyperlinks if it’s a Web site

 


TIP:  The general rule of thumb has been that .gov (and most .edu) Web sites are usually reliable; however, you should evaluate those just as you would the .org and .com sites!



Click on the links below for more information about evaluating information sources:

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